Sticking with health and fitness goals is perhaps the most challenging of any type of goal. There are so many temptations and cravings that seek to keep us from doing better for ourselves. This is especially challenging in college when we are being pulled in many directions and can quickly skip workouts and reach for unhealthy meals. Combatting these busy schedules to stick with this healthy lifestyle we are trying to achieve means preparation, dedication, and discipline. We will go through different ways to apply each one of these in your life so that we can stick to our goals and begin to see real differences in our health and fitness:
1. Know your “why”
Knowing your “why” is important for everything that you do, or else you wouldn’t do it. Why do you eat food? It tastes good and you need it to live. Why do you go to work every day? To pay your bills and put food on the table, or hopefully because it’s your passion. There is a “why” for everything we do, even if we don’t always think about it. If you are trying to motivate yourself to go to the gym without really knowing why you’re making yourself do it, you may be asking yourself, why am I here sweating my butt off when I could be watching Netflix? Figure out why you do it, whether it is for a healthy physique, a prolonged life, or to make yourself feel good–pick your “why”.
2. Take away temptations
How many times have you heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”? In order to see results faster for health goals, you have to be conscious about what you are putting in your body. Some people may struggle with this at first, but no matter how much you run or how long you workout, you can’t undo poor nutrition. In order to avoid getting off course and allowing yourself non-nutritive foods, don’t buy them. If they aren’t easily accessed by keeping them in your house, then you will be less likely to stray from your healthy eating. Of course, you should allow yourself a treat every now and again. This is a lifestyle, not a diet.
3. No excuses
There are always going to be a million reasons to talk yourself out of making that healthy dinner or making it to the gym. As college students, we are being pulled into many different directions, it can be easy to say that you can’t make it to the gym because you have to study or because you worked an eight-hour shift at work. It goes back to your why. If you have a reason you’re doing this, then you will plan accordingly so that you cannot make excuses. At the end of the day, there’s always going to be an excuse; instead, just stop thinking about it and do it.
4. Plan for it
One of the key parts of ensuring you can stick to these new health goals is knowing your schedule and plan for how to ensure your own success. If you go into this thinking that you can just wing it and you only think about your goal, you are not setting yourself up for success. Life gets in the way, there will be surprise invitations to events and plenty of studying and work. To do this, think about your week, how busy are you? Are you going to be gone most nights? Do you have classes for several hours in the mornings? Will you go out this weekend? Solutions could be packing lunch to take onto campus, meal prepping your dinners, scheduling workouts in the morning and working out during the week so you can enjoy the weekend.
5. Inspire yourself
During this process, it can be hard to keep yourself inspired to reach your health goals. Shortly after starting, that inspiration will wear off and you will have to find a motivation to get yourself to continue to work towards your goals. You have to figure out what motivates you. Hang sticky notes on your mirror to encourage you to keep going or remind yourself of how great you are. Set alarms with encouraging notes that tell you to get to the gym. Have a friend who texts you and keeps you inspired and on track. When we have someone to make us feel responsible, then we are less likely to get off track. Even watch videos from inspirational speakers or people who inspire you to reach your goal. Above all, remember your why, if it is strong enough, you can inspire yourself to keep fighting for it.
6. Progress takes time, be patient
After a couple weeks, you make be looking in the mirror, checking the scale, and comparing progress photos. Maybe you’ll be down a pound or two but real progress takes time and it won’t be seen or realized that quickly. It is important to remember during this time that while you are making progress, it will not be visible yet. Real progress will be able to be seen in four to eight weeks, depending on how closely you have stuck to your eating and exercise. Health goals are also difficult because we want the progress immediately but that is not how it works in this case.
7. Make it a lifestyle
I have mentioned that this is a lifestyle, this is important to remember because diets, while they may be effective, are not lifestyles. How often do you see people living off of the Weight Watchers program for their whole life? The goal of these various diets is to teach portioning, healthy types of foods, and the importance of consistency. However, their programs are not meant to be something you do for the rest of your life. The goal is to teach you the qualities of a healthy lifestyle so that you can carry it into your own life. Since you already know that this is their goal, you can apply it to your eating. Stick to healthy foods, eat balanced, controlled portions, and stay consistent in your eating style. Diets aren’t meant to be permanent and that is why they never work and we end up back where we started. To avoid this, think of this as changes you are making to your life. This will also make it better for when you eat sweets or eat out; you won’t feel as much guilt because you know that you’re not cheating on a diet, you’re living a lifestyle and treats are allowed. This will make it much easier to stick to your health goals when you are not so strict.
8. Meal prep
Are you tired of hearing me say this yet? Yeah, probably, but if you haven’t taken my advice yet, here’s your reminder. Meal prepping is the best way to stick to your healthy lifestyle because it is so easy and convenient. Thinking of eating out? You have meal prepped chicken and veggies in the fridge, it would be a waste not to eat it and you would have to spend money on the take out. Are you busy all week and thinking about just grabbing something on campus? You made meal prep, remember? Just bring it on campus and you’re good to go. Meal prep is so beneficial and the best way to help you stick to your health goals, just designate an hour or two of your week to prep and then don’t think about it again until next week. Sounds good, right?